These allies help our colleagues connect

 

When employees feel like they belong at work, both they and their employers benefit. The Harvard Business Review reported that a higher sense of belonging was connected to better job performance, lower turnover and even fewer sick days.

Feeling included and connected – and having allies who’ll help navigate the workplace – can go a long way toward empowering employees to be their best. That’s one area where the Pratt & Whitney Emerging Professionals Employee Resource Group excels.

“You get into a company, your foot’s already in the door. But sometimes we don’t feel like we have a voice. We might not feel like we’re connected,” said Alexander W. Schneider, president of the Pratt & Whitney Emerging Professionals. “That’s our goal. To get you connected, to have fun and to develop your career.”

The Pratt & Whitney Emerging Professionals develop, recruit and retain professionals to fuel the company's future. The group provides a platform for engagement and fun to facilitate employees' sense of belonging. Contact the group to find out about opportunities to get connected in your area.

Learn more about the Pratt & Whitney Emerging Professionals on this episode of Pratt Chat.

 

[EPISODE TRANSCRIPT]

Rob McGuinness: When employees feel like they belong at work, both they – and their employers – benefit. The Harvard Business Review reported that a higher sense of belonging was connected to better job performance, lower turnover and even fewer sick days.

Rob McGuinness: Feeling included and connected – and having allies who’ll help navigate the workplace – can go a long way toward empowering employees to be their best. That’s one area where the Pratt & Whitney Emerging Professionals Employee Resource Group excels.

Rob McGuinness: Alexander W. Schneider is the president of the Pratt & Whitney Emerging Professionals. He joined the group not long after joining the company.

Alex Schneider: I attended all the summer events, continued making connections and I built, really, a strong group of friends from just participating in this organization. And I liked it so much that I wanted to join the board and also give back.

Rob McGuinness: Today we’ll hear how the Emerging Professionals enable allyship for employees at all stages of their careers, and how the group thrives on building relationships with Pratt & Whitney’s other Employee Resource Groups, too. I’m Rob McGuinness, and you’re listening to Pratt Chat.

[MUSIC]

Rob McGuinness: Caidie Liu is a project engineer in the Hot Section Module Center. She is the signature event lead for the Emerging Professionals. One misconception about the Pratt & Whitney Emerging Professionals is that the group is only for newcomers to the company. How is that not the case?

Caidie Liu: PWEP is a great place for both new and existing employees to make connections, to learn about career paths, as well as participate in events to grow their network.

Caidie Liu: We want to be inclusive, not just for new hires, but also for employees who want to be more engaged in the community.

Caidie Liu: To tell a little story of mine with PWEP, I started my internship at Pratt & Whitney in 2016. Unlike interns from target schools, I was the only intern from my school that summer. It was very challenging to meet and interact with people outside of work because I really didn’t know anyone in the area.

Caidie Liu: I went to most of the PWEP events that summer, which gave me the opportunity and options to meet people outside of my group, and outside of Pratt & Whitney, because we collaborate with Collins. I made some really good friends that summer. And when I returned to Pratt & Whitney full time in 2017, PWEP continued to provide me the opportunity to network with people from other ERGs, helped me to grow professionally and personally.

Rob McGuinness: Alex Schneider is the F100 logistics program manager for Egypt and Morocco and president of the Pratt & Whitney Emerging Professionals. Alex, professional development is an important part of what your group does, by way of education, community outreach and general engagement. How do you view professional development through the lens of allyship?

Alex Schneider: It’s a lot of things. It’s increasing your network, learning about different skills, different abilities. I see it being a successful way to kind of get your foot in the door. You get into a company, you feel like you’re in the company. Your foot’s already in the door. But sometimes we don’t feel like we have a voice, we might not feel like we’re connected. That’s PWEP’s goal. To get you connected, have fun and develop your career.

Rob McGuinness: Alex, the Emerging Professionals also helped you make connections when you first arrived at Pratt & Whitney. You moved to Connecticut from Florida. What was that like, and how did the group help?

Alex Schneider: For me, it was a big change, moving to Connecticut. I didn’t really know anyone. I kind of took a leap of faith. And I felt just kind of lost. I remember I was walking in the grocery store and I was like, wow, I moved here. And when I started work, I didn’t really know what to do or how to fit in. I had a coworker who connected me to a PWEP event and said, hey, come join me. I got involved, got connected with a few more folks in the PWEP organization, I signed up for their newsletter. I attended all the summer events, continued making connections and I built, really, a strong group of friends from just participating in this organization. And I liked it so much that I wanted to join the board and also give back and continue to participate.

Rob McGuinness: Lisa Szewczul is the vice president of Environment, Health and Safety and one of the executive champions for the Emerging Professionals. Lisa, what does allyship mean to you?

Lisa Szewczul: I think that’s what PWEP is all about. It means making the commitment and then engaging in this active practice of listening and learning. I do a lot of that with the PWEP board members. I learn a lot, and I un-learn in some ways. I can help PWEP and the Emerging Professionals by sharing what I’ve learned on my career journey.

Lisa Szewczul: I advocate for PWEP with my peers. I share the stories – you heard some of the stories here, now – what people are going through. How we as a leadership team can help. What we can do to make these connections that you hear about. We want to make sure that when someone joins the company, they really feel a part of this dynamic, innovative team that we have. I try to ensure that when people hear “Employer of Choice,” it actually means something to them. We want people to feel like they have that space to bring out their best self at work, right from the beginning.

Rob McGuinness: I know that a great deal of the social, community service and professional development events that PWEP does are typically in-person events. Some of those things just aren’t an option, with the limitations on in-person gatherings. What has been your advice to the group as they navigate the “new normal” of the pandemic?

Lisa Szewczul: Is it more challenging to come together to do the learning and sharing? Yes. It really is. But I’m not going to go as far as saying that we can’t overcome it and still accomplish our mission. It’s just how do we accomplish our mission in a different way, with these different ways of connecting. That’s what we’re looking at. It’s a different way of connecting, we’re still connecting. Maybe we’re not physically together, but as a team, the togetherness is there. We rally around whatever the topic is. I kind of serve as a cheerleader, if you will. These folks know how to get things done. One of the things that makes Pratt so special is our employees embrace these kinds of challenges. It's nothing that we aren’t going to overcome.

Rob McGuinness: The Emerging Professionals is a very active group. I’ve seen the calendar of events just for Connecticut. There are six chapters throughout North America. The group seems to be everywhere, sometimes. But your Employee Resource Group is also an ally to the other ERGs. You do that sometimes by volunteering at their events, and having a board position that manages outreach to the other groups. Alex, Caidie, can you talk about why that is important to your group?

Alex Schneider: I think we have an allyship with all of the ERGs at Pratt & Whitney. We always make an effort to have collaboration, a contact, a stream of communication such that we can support the other ERGs in their efforts and such that they can support us in our efforts.

Caidie Liu: ERGs are intended to build communities, providing support, and empowering employees personally and professionally within the organization. By promoting and volunteering at events hosted by other ERGs, not only can we lend a hand to the other ERGs to gain more visibility for their events, but also provide opportunities for our members to learn more about other ERGs that may share a common identity, and open up more networking opportunities for our members as well.

Rob McGuinness: August is a busy month for the Emerging Professionals. You typically host your signature event. It will be a series of virtual activities this year. Caidie, tell us about what we can expect from the group.

Caidie Liu: We’ve taken a different approach to hosting our signature event this year. Our goal is to provide resources to assist our community in adjusting to the new normal over this time, and, of course, to achieve work-life balance. Our signature event title this year is “Engage, Energize, Evolve: Navigating Work-Life Balance in the New Normal.” We’ll be hosting a series of speakers, lunch and learn events, and activities in August to discuss this topic.

Caidie Liu: We hosted two events last week and two events this week. The first is a speaker lunch-and-learn discussion about parenting at Pratt & Whitney and all the moving factors around being a successful parent, colleague and employee. And then, the second event is an after-work guided meditation session to learn to relax our mind and our body after a long day of work and life. We’d love for everyone to join our events and learn something from our speakers.

Rob McGuinness: It sounds like an engaging, topical and relevant series. Listeners, if you’d like to learn more, visit the Pratt & Whitney Emerging Professionals’ intranet page to get all the details. We’ll link to the specifics from the transcript that accompanies this episode.

Rob McGuinness: A special thanks to Alex, Caidie and Lisa for their time today. I think that wraps it up for this episode of Pratt Chat. For Pratt & Whitney Communications, I’m Rob McGuinness. Take care, everyone.

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